Sweden tells officials to listen to religious leaders after spate of Quran burnings

Ministers hold talks on 'heightened security situation' after provocative public incidents

Sweden's relations with the Muslim world have been strained after police gave permission for several Quran-burning protests. AFP
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Sweden has told officials to involve religious leaders in crisis planning as the country faces threats after the public burning of the Quran in Stockholm.

The government held talks on Friday on what it called the “heightened security situation that now prevails”.

Ministers are trying to restore calm after a spate of provocative protests led to condemnation from the Muslim world.

In talks to defuse tensions they have “highlighted the important role religious communities have in various societal challenges”, Sweden’s Public Administration Minister Erik Slottner said on Friday.

He said ministers “urged municipalities and authorities to involve religious communities to a greater extent in their work, for example with crisis preparedness”.

Per Bill, who leads a group of regional governors, said it was “important to develop Sweden’s preparedness together” in what he called a “deteriorating security policy situation”.

Denmark and Sweden are on alert for retaliation after the Quran was repeatedly desecrated in both countries with police watching on.

The incidents outside the Turkish and Iraqi embassies, Stockholm’s main mosque and the Swedish parliament have tested the limits of free expression laws in Sweden.

Sweden has told diplomats from Muslim countries it does not approve and police only authorise gatherings and not what happens there.

But the acts have caused anger in the Muslim world where the Swedish embassy was attacked in Baghdad and governments have urged Sweden and Denmark to take a tougher stance.

The Danish government has proposed a “legal tool” to stop inflammatory acts, while Sweden says it is considering options. The Iraqi-born ringleader of recent Stockholm stunts, Salwan Momika, is being investigated over possible incitement.

Both countries have tightened border checks and Denmark this week said it would extend the stricter regime for people arriving from Sweden and Germany.

Danish Justice Minister Peter Hummelgaard said the Quran burnings “have an impact on the current threat level”.

Updated: August 11, 2023, 6:02 PM